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While We Try to Protect Ourselves and Our Families, Adults Must Take Responsibility to Prevent Easy Access to Guns
Common Sense about Kids and Guns, 9/19/2001

Victoria Reggie Kennedy, the President of Common Sense about Kids and Guns, issued the following statement in response to the increase in first-time gun buyers in the wake of last week’s terrorist attacks and the need for common sense, responsible safety measures to protect children and teenagers from unsupervised access to guns:

“As all Americans struggle to find an appropriate response to the tragic events of last week, Common Sense about Kids and Guns strongly urges all adults to exercise caution and engage in an honest assessment of their own personal family situations before deciding to bring a gun into the home. The decision to keep a firearm in the home is a very serious one that comes with enormous responsibilities.

“Just this past week-end, a three year old boy lost his life after accidentally shooting himself with a loaded and unlocked gun his father had brought into the home to ‘protect’ his family. (Read story.) Sadly, in different circumstances, that same kind of story is repeated nearly every day in towns and communities across America. A loaded or unlocked gun is literally a tragic, yet totally preventable, accident waiting to happen.

“During these difficult and volatile times, parents need to help children cope by giving them a sense of safety and security. Unfortunately, that sense of safety and security can be shattered by a hastily made decision to bring a gun into the home.

“Before deciding to bring a gun into the home, responsible adults must, at a minimum, consider the following: Do children live in or visit their home? Does someone in the family abuse drugs or alcohol? Is someone in the household depressed or prone to violence or abuse? Is the adult willing or able to assure that the gun will be unloaded and locked at all times with the ammunition stored and locked separately? And is the adult willing or able to assure that no child or teenager can get access to the key or combination for the lock?

“Please remember that children and teenagers are naturally curious and have always tested the limits adults set for them. A responsible adult cannot rely on a child or teenager not to touch a gun, merely because they have been told not to do so. It is impossible to predict what children, teenagers and their friends will do, and the risks of mishandling a gun are too great to place the burden of responsibility on anyone other the adult bringing the gun into the home.

“Please follow these six, common sense safety steps to help protect your family:
All gun owners must:
-- Unload and lock up their guns;
-- Lock and store ammunition separately; and
-- Keep keys where kids are unable to find them.
All parents must:
-- Ask if guns are safely stored at places their kids visit or play;
-- Talk with their kids about guns; and
-- Teach young children not to touch guns and to tell an adult if they find one.

“And remember, the child you save may be your own.”

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